back to article Folks are shocked – shocked – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday expressed dismay that Amazon Web Services has been urging US government agencies to use its Rekognition API for state-sponsored facial recognition. The advocacy organization published emails obtained over a six-month investigation documenting marketing efforts by Amazon employees …

  1. Chris G

    Not much to see here

    "In the UK, face analysis tech helped nab a suspect in 2014. That same year in the US, it was used to identify and arrest a man sought for alleged involvement in two armed robberies."

    So in 4 years, Brit cops managed to nab a suspect and American cops arrested one man with this.

    Real game changing technology then. How much was spent on this tech per arrest?

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Not much to see here

      Remarkably, he then argued that "in principle, I agree with that" but there was one big problem: internet access is not a free market in the United States.

      Probably more than we want to know which is money that could have been spent on live detectives. Those live ones would have probably made quite a few more arrests also. But hi-tech is what is being touted to them and everyone else.

      The other thing is that there's no mention of false positives so there's also money wasted.

      The only ones who are benefiting seem to be the tech companies.

    2. joed

      Re: Not much to see here

      "Real game changing technology then. How much was spent on this tech per arrest?" - Plenty (which is the real goal) - the security theater/hysteria has been exploited by governments and business to funnel public money with virtually no oversight. Ironically, significant portion of "consumers" supports this "military industrial complex" with voluntary contributions to the bottoms line of players that established themselves also as major consumer goods/services providers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet "Amazon Go", their retail store prototype, is 100% fake

    You get the invoice hours after you left the Amazon Go shop. Amazon slaves in sweetshops have to watch the surveillance video cam footage first, and do the number crunching in manual labor, as nothing is automated yet.

    Amazon Go, their "fully automated retail shop" is complete fake. The only "automation" are sliding doors (how old school), surveillance cams (actually Rasperry Pi + cam) and much of human labor like security personal strolling around and behind the wall in sweetshops sniffing through the surveillance cam footage to figure out what the few end consumers actually took with them when the left the shop for good.

    Actual article: (german)


    1. I am David Jones Silver badge

      Re: Yet "Amazon Go", their retail store prototype, is 100% fake

      That Golem article does not back up your comments at all.

      The shopper got his invoice “on the way back from the shop”, and it says nothing about security personnel or manually analysing video feeds.

      If you’re interested, a related patent application from Amazon is WO2014209724.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yet "Amazon Go", their retail store prototype, is 100% fake

        > That Golem article does not back up your comments at all.

        It's you. The article is written in GERMAN. It's in the article.

        The article mentions the invoice is sent out several hours after the journalist left the shop. He questions why it takes so long. And why the required "Amazon Go" app cannot calculate the invoice on-the-fly.

        The whole shop experience is described as like one being a theft, leaving a shop without paying but watched by security guards strolling around everywhere and having an eye on you. After several hours the invoice is sent to the app - the journalist guesses it takes a Amazon sweetshop in oversee to watch the video tape footage and crunch to put together the invoice data.

  3. DerekCurrie
    Big Brother

    An Invasion Of Our Right To Privacy

    Luckily, thwarting these crimes by our no-longer 'law enforcement' is easy. Wear a mask! My favorite is my Groucho Marx pair of glasses with mustache. No doubt the most popular will be the Anonymous mask, aka the Guy Fawkes Mask. It's not just for November 5th any more!

    Guy Fawkes Mask @Wikipedia

    Where To Buy Guy Fawkes Masks @$4.90

    Don't buy yours at Amazon, please. (-_^)


    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Big Brother

      Re: An Invasion Of Our Right To Privacy

      My favorite is my Groucho Marx pair of glasses with mustache.

      How delightfully Old School™. I think I will make mine a Captain America mask given the reasons for wearing one.

  4. GruntyMcPugh

    This explains a lot,...

    ... the infamous web site is hosted by Amazon;

    Type Domain Name IP Address TTL

    A, Inc. (AS14618) 60 sec

    A, Inc. (AS14618) 60 sec

    1. Alister

      Re: This explains a lot,...

      ... the infamous web site is hosted by Amazon

      Well yes, as are millions of other websites, because Amazon provide cloud hosting, you know?

      I've got a few sites hosted by Amazon, even some on the same subnets, would you like to suggest I'm involved as well?

      1. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: This explains a lot,...

        Do you host images of people, and include data such as their name and location on your web sites?

  5. BebopWeBop

    In a phone interview, Jeff Talbot, public affairs officer for the Washington County Sheriff's Office, which has also been testing Rekognition, said while it's difficult to make a definitive statement about system accuracy because every photo fed into the system is different, the technology has proven to be useful.

    "Anecdotally, we have made a number arrests based on this software in the last year," he said, citing various low-level offenses.

    And in a quick statement summarises why the analysis of evidence should inlude at least a few experts :-) It's difficult, but anecdotal evidence supports our case. Really.....

  6. Richard 111

    Amazon Prime Photos a resource for face-recog training?

    <conspiracy theory>Do amazon use the tagged photos uploaded by customers to their Prime Photos service as training material for the face-recog software? Unfortunately the "Amazon Drive and Prime Photos Terms of Use" page seems to be down at the moment so I don't know. </conspiracy theory> I guess it comes back to nothing is really "free".

    Whats a crim to do these days what with friends and family posting pictures of you to facebook and government photos like driving licenses. Your only hope is that the you don't come up in the top 50 matches. I don't have any particular sympathy for (violent) criminals but I do believe this technology can be misused at demonstrations and civil disobedience events.

  7. Portent

    Zero Wrong

    All your face are belong to us...

  8. Mike Moyle

    I wonder how much the service costs?

    I'm pretty sure that if one could get photos of everyone entering/leaving police headquarters at around shift change times that one could probably convince a certain class of persons to invest in a system that used unsecured surveillance cams to track, say, whether any of the photographed are in an area where the investors might wish to transact some business.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and all that.

  9. Zwuramunga

    Amazon Prime

    You are either a Prime Citizen, or you are their Prime Suspect.

  10. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Yes, no doubt

    "Amazon requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use AWS services" said an Amazon spokesman, before dissolving into helpless laughter.

    Also, I must say I'm disappointed in the FBI. Those nice NCIS folks get a useful hit from facial recognition about 90% of the time, and within only a few minutes, too. That may be due to their semikeyboardist skills, though.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why DIY a Spy kit, when you can pick one up on Amazoin, they deliver.

    Well the package anyway.

    It is probably better if the image tracking can reduce candidates and bring things to light rather than hitting with a definitive match. Letting people with real brains further investigations by narrowing the field seems a better option than a perfect match.

    Perfect matches never seem to work out in the long run, put it in the "Too Good To Be True" department.

  12. Kabukiwookie

    All your data are belong to us

    CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops

    So what would be the chance of all data stored in the Amazon 'cloud' are actively being harvested by the CIA or any of the other TLAs?

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